Letter: After the bombs

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Sir: US cruise missiles hit Khartoum shortly before the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Omdurman(2 September 1898), when British and Egyptian soldiers defeated an Islamic movement which had, among other things, substituted slave raids and pillaging for governance in South Sudan. One hundred years on, there are some parallels, but cruise missiles will merely exacerbate the fundamental problem that gives rise to the misery in Sudan today.

Until all parties to the civil war are held to their agreement to cease fire for an interim period, so that a referendum can be held to ask southerners what they want, the misery will continue. Britain sold the southerners down the river in 1954, but could now give substance to an ethical foreign policy by convening a conference to agree and establish ceasefire and referendum arrangements.

A government which has experienced the Northern Ireland peace process, which is a permanent member of the Security Council and which descends from the imperial power which created the modern Sudan could surely try to overcome this hurdle in order to bring about a peaceful settlement.